Monday, November 05, 2007

Language, the Word Virus

Q: Do you think there is a word for everything? Do you think there is stuff which doesnt have a name yet, or there isn't a word for?

A: I think you have to change the question: words are a replacement for, rather than a reflection of what they attempt to describe. Language is the greatest barrier between us and what we experience: as soon as we put a name to something we change it, and as soon as you start thinking about life in terms of language you negate its objective qualities: its everythingness. Words take on their own identity, ultimately usurping the very thing they were intended to represent. Burroughs called it the 'Word Virus'.

"My general theory......has been that the Word is literally a virus, and that it has not been recognized as such because it has achieved a state of relatively stable symbiosis with it's human host....The Word clearly bears the single identifying feature of a virus: it's an organism with no internal function other than to replicate itself."

Think about why writing is so effective: is it because the words literally contain meaning, or because of what they stimulate in you? Everyone interprets everything differently, and all language is ultimately inadequate.

So, in a word.


Anonymous said...

And still you, you need the words. It's what you live for and of. It'd be difficult to be a journalist without the use of words to juggle with.
This dilemma can only be solved by swapping your pen (I mean keyboard) with a camera.

Ben said...

I've heard the theory before, it takes a negative view of language. Of course language is the constricting strait jacket in which we are forced to operate to communicate with other people and express ourselves. Blake agreed - isn't a writer's expression of an idea just one person's interpretation - but then of course once it is read by someone else, it becomes another person's interpretation.